Bachelor of Social Work



This highly-regarded interdisciplinary degree will engage you in both theory and practice, equipping you for a wide range of people-related work.

The BSW at UC is New Zealand’s most established Social Work programme and its graduates are in high demand. The programme is ideal for those with a commitment to working with others in overcoming personal and institutional barriers to wellbeing and promoting the full potential of people.

Features of the Bachelor of Social Work at UC

  • May be awarded with honours
  • Recognised by the Social Workers' Registration Board
  • Internationally recognised qualification
  • The BSW has a strong practical component, leading up to 75% fieldwork in your fourth and final year
  • Field placements see students working within social service agencies and the community.

Entry requirements

Admission to UC with University Entrance, or equivalent, is required to enrol for a Bachelor's degree. Domestic applicants over 20 who do not hold University Entrance, or equivalent, may gain admission by providing evidence of their ability to complete tertiary study successfully. For information on gaining admission to UC please see how to apply for undergraduate qualifications.

You are also required to meet UC’s English language requirements.

Recommended preparation

Entry to the first year of the BSW is open to all students with entry to the University. While no particular school subjects are required, a background in subjects promoting communication skills such as English, history, geography or te reo Māori is useful. Volunteer work in the community is also good preparation.

Statistics is useful for the further study of Social Work.

Qualification structure and duration

The Bachelor of Social Work requires a total of 480 points:

Elective streams

In your first year, half of your courses will be prescribed (in Social Work and Human Services) and half will be elected, depending on which stream you would like to focus your studies on. See below for more details on streams available.  

Third year and beyond

Entry to Social Work courses at 300-level and above is competitive. Completed courses at 100 and 200-level can be credited to a Bachelor of Arts with a major in Human Services, Psychology or Sociology (depending on your elective stream) if you choose not to continue with a BSW.

In your fourth year, 75% of your work will be in the field, allowing you to put into practice the knowledge and skills you have gained. 

For the full degree requirements see the Regulations for the Bachelor of Social Work.

Typical degree structure for Bachelor of Social Work

Year 1
TREO or MAOR 100 Level
PSYC105 or 106
100 Level
100 Level
Year 2
SOWK 201
SOWK 202
SOWK 203
HSRV 204
HSRV 206
MAOR 212
200 Level
200 Level
Year 3
Year 4
    Compulsory courses
    Course choice based on elective stream (Human Services, Sociology, Psychology, or Māori and Indigenous Studies/Te Reo Māori)*.

Each small block represents a 15-point course. However, some courses may be 30 points (or more).

* See the bachelor of Social Work regulations for elective stream course requirements at www.canterbury.ac.nz/regulations/award/bsw_regs.shtml

Subjects and courses

Elective Stream 1 (Human Services)

(a) 45 points in Sociology and/or Psychology at 100-level; and
(b) 30 points in Human Services at 200-level.

Elective Stream 2 (Sociology)

(a) 30 points in Sociology at 100-level, including SOCI111 Exploring Society and SOCI112 Global Society or their equivalents; and
(b) 15 points in Psychology at 100-level, including either PSYC105 Introductory Psychology - Brain, Behaviour and Cognition or PSYCH106 Introductory Psychology - Social, Personality and Developmental or their equivalents; and
(c) 30 points in Sociology at 200-level.

Elective Stream 3 (Psychology)

(a) 30 points in Psychology at 100-level, including PSYC105 Introductory Psychology - Brain, Behaviour and Cognition and PSYCH106 Introductory Psychology - Social, Personality and Developmental or their equivalents; and
(b) 15 points in Sociology at 100-level, including either SOCI111 Exploring Society or SOCI112 Global Society or their equivalents; and
(c) 30 points in Psychology at 200-level, including PSYC206 Research Design and Statistics.

Elective Stream 4 (Māori and Indigenous Studies/Te Reo)

(a) 30 points in Sociology at 100-level, including SOCI111 Exploring Society and SOCI112 Global Society or their equivalents; and
(b) 15 points in Psychology at 100-level, including either PSYC105 Introductory Psychology - Brain, Behaviour and Cognition or PSYCH106 Introductory Psychology - Social, Personality and Developmental or their equivalents; and
(c) 30 points in Māori and Indigenous Studies or Te Reo Māori at 200-level.

Note: Prerequisites, restrictions and limitations may apply as shown in the Bachelor of Arts Regulations Schedule.

Further study

Postgraduate qualifications

Career opportunities

Students develop a strong academic and practice foundation in the social sciences and social work at UC, which prepares them to be social workers, policy analysts and researchers in both statutory and non-government sectors.

Graduates are highly employable overseas, particularly in the UK and Australia.

Social Work graduates are employed in a wide variety of fields including family welfare, child protection, justice, education, community development, and all areas of health and wellbeing. 

Find out more about what you can do with a degree in Social Work.

More information

For the full degree requirements see the Regulations for the Bachelor of Social Work. For information on resources, facilities and staff, visit the School of Language, Social and Political Sciences.

For more information email info@canterbury.ac.nz or freephone 0800 VARSITY (827 748).

For assistance with planning your programme of study contact the Liaison Office (new students) or visit the Liaison Office’s course planning page (new students), or a College of Arts Student Advisor (advancing students).

Lisa Mora

Lisa Mora

'I plan to continue to advocate for the right of people to speak for themselves...'

Jenna dellabarca

Jenna Dellabarca

'If you have a passion for helping and advocating for people then this degree is definitely something you should consider studying.'